(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this morning (Monday), 19 June 2006, convened the Ministerial Committee on Implementing the Disengagement Plan in order to discuss assistance to residents. Industry, Trade and Employment Minister Eli Yishai, Justice Minister Haim Ramon, Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On, Minister Rafi Eitan, Minister Yitzhak Cohen and the Directors-General of the ministries concerned attended.

SELA Disengagement Authority Director Yonatan Basi gave the Committee a status report, including details on claims filed with the Authority, and the compensation that has been paid for residences, businesses, agriculture and the Erez Industrial Zone. The Committee was also briefed on the situation at the temporary and permanent residential housing sites, the special social assistance provided to evacuees and the Authority’s work with the various local councils that have absorbed evacuees.

Prime Minister Olmert said that since this was a population group that underwent a trauma, it had to be treated with flexibility and special attention.

The Committee made the following decisions:

* To allocate NIS 1 million to the Housing and Construction Ministry for statutory and infrastructure planning for the construction of permanent housing at kibbutz Palmahim. Contacts on implementing the planning will be carried out after receiving commitments from groups of families from Elei Sinai that would like to build homes at Palmahim.

* To allocate, in the framework of the SELA Disengagement Authority’s current budget, NIS 2 million for the following goals: Collecting information on public structures and institutions in the communities that were evacuated in the context of the Disengagement Plan; and drawing up plans for the construction of public structures, including feasibility studies and the preparation of cost estimates.

* To allocate to the Prime Minister’s Office, in the framework of the SELA Disengagement Authority’s operating budget, a supplementary budget of NIS 18 million for contacts with hotels and guest facilities and companies that are providing economic and/or other assistance services, via the Defense Ministry, for the continued lodging of residents of the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria in the context of their moving to temporary housing by the end of this month.

* To transfer advances of 50% of the amounts to be determined for assistance to local councils that have absorbed evacuees.

Prime Minister Olmert said: "Dealing with the evacuees is a special mission that must be carried out with empathy and patience. While there is no place to apologize for Government decisions, we must understand those who carried on their backs legitimate Government decisions. We must act to provide answers also for those for whom no solutions have been found in existing frameworks.  Education is an issue of utmost importance and we must act with full sensitivity while providing full assistance. We have more than a moral obligation to see to the last of the evacuees and to handle them with sensitivity."